Using the XCut XPress With New Bed and Botanicals

While in Asheville I purchased a cutting board at a kitchen shop for $11.99. It measured 13″ by 19 3/4″ and I had Lee cut it down to 8 1/2″ by 18″ because there was a cut out handle near one end. I had already cut a mylar piece for keeping the surface easy to clean and although it was 8 1/2″ by 20″, it was easy to chop off the two inches. I use my board shear to cut the mylar but tape both sides where the cut will be so as not to shatter the plastic.

Next I took the still damp leaves from doing contact prints on the scarves and placed them into the press between various sheets of papers. Here is the first using Stonehenge printmaking papers.

I like the softness of this and plan to use them as they are in pieces for new work like the Australian Travel panel I finished week before last. Here is a reminder of that piece. New works for the exhibit at River Gallery in Chattanooga next April will be similar to it and the small Messages from the Driveway series.

After trying the leaves on printmaking papers, I decided to just use copy or office papers that are about 24 lb.

I am taking advantage of the new longer length bed we made. I must say the bed is not as thick as the one that came with the XCut XPress but only by 1/8 inch or so, and it was easy to pack in the difference and increase the pressure.

I will use these softer prints to try some of my dry point etchings over. Especially since I have so many etchings of Eucalyptus trees, leaves, and pods.

The embossings are nice and not so easy to see in these images. But they invited me to try another tack with them.

Drawing in with pencil, after trying and failing to get silver point to adhere to the surface. If I gesso the surface before imprinting leaves, silver point would have worked. Next time. So I softly used a graphite pencil to emphasize the natural leaf marks. And, of course, water colored the leaf. This was fun and they will be used as well in the new works with prints on cloth and other dry point images.

My final play for the day yesterday was using my iron water on the papers and then placing leaves and blooms in between. Rolling through twice was not such a good idea as the smaller leaf created its own shadow. But these I will stitch into and disguise that….I think.

What I learned is that it is messy bringing those wet smelly leaves into the studio. Trying to sort out the ones that were flat and trying to not get too much dampness on the papers was a challenge. I have already stained my new longer cut felts. I will cut new ones from felt that I bought to make those despicable little pin cushions in the likeness of a despicable little fingered man….but that is another story.

Today I will do some more drawing and printing into and over the papers I amassed yesterday. And I will get out my local and Australian earth pigments to do some coloring into the botanical contact prints.  I must say the hard part is picking out which side of the printed papers to use. The easy answer is to turn them into a book so both sides of the paper can be seen….but isn’t everybody doing that already with their contact prints?

More stitching and coloring is the try for today….next week maybe some gessoed papers to do silver point on after printing.

Til then I am cleaning out all those dead leaves and giving them a toss. There happens to be bunches of fresh ones in the foyer waiting til I want to work with Eucalyptus again. And then there are all those ones that I used my burning tool on that will find their way into this new work. Remember these?

And my new frames came yesterday so I can cut the museum board the right size to start planning on the layouts. I just have this next week to play before I have private students taking over my thinking (which is a good thing) and my studio the following week.

So I had better get to it.


Those Dead Dried Leaves Scarves

Here the two of them are unwrapped, rinsed and laying out. There is considerably more orange than I thought would come through. Most of it is from the dried California leaves.

But some from the small little stem-clinging Eucalyptus from Trader Joe’s.

All of it looks a bit “messy” for my taste. Not many clear outlines of leaf patterns.

They sort of look like what they are….lots of leaves tossed on cloth with a hope for the best. Actually “the best” takes more work than what I put into these. I don’t really like orange that much so my favorite parts are the ends with string resist marks where iron crept into the cloth.

Dry now they are a bit better.

The details are the best views. I will press them and then put them away for gifts or something. The ones I did last March in Australia at the Botanical Studio were so much better. The Eucalyptus leaves there are simply stunning on how they transfer to cloth. If I can possibly work in a day there dyeing or just work on them while in country next March I will, but time is tight to say the least!

Today I returned from Asheville and bought enough felt to make many, many trump pincushions. My friend Marla has downsized the pattern for “pocket pincushions” and we are thinking that since we are being asked, we might just do them up in trade for donations to Planned Parenthood. We will discuss it over Christmas when she comes here. I will try to have everything cut out and ready for the machine. There is such pleasure sticking pins into its body.

And I arrived home to a phone call asking me to do a show in Chattanooga next April. So just ordered more frames for the etchings and botanical prints works about messages and travel.

That’s it. I just promised images of the dead leaves on cloth and here it is.

All Over The Place

It is a rather dull fall season here. Not much color. And today it is raining. I feel scattered. Unable to settle. I took all the dead and dried up Eucalyptus leaves placed them along some lovely wool scarves to see if any color would come from it. I might have just turned the whole bunch into a dark and dismal brownish grey with no leaf definition.

Nobody ever shows putting dead dried up leaves on their contact prints.  Maybe I should go out there and see what it looks like. Yep I will do that now.

Well that was better than I expected! I rolled it up quickly so as not to disturb the leaves doing their best and stuck it back in the pot. I will wait until I return from Asheville on Wednesday and then undo the two scarves. I might even bring home some more Eucalyptus from Trader Joes. I think the orange-ish ones are from a dried up bunch left from a box shipped from California a couple of months ago. So that is good news…not ruining two of the perfectly good wool scarves I ordered from a textile artist in Ohio.

But doesn’t it seem that everybody is doing contact prints with plants? And the funny thing is that no two look the same. It is impossible to duplicate. So when you have some leaves, some paper and/or cloth, you just have to try it again. So simple. So thank you again, India Flint!

I also went back to my Specimen Journal to do some more of the discoverer’s drawings.

He must be documenting a hatch on this page.

And then looking closer to the surface on the water there appears to be gelatinous masses with small eggs. This will be the beginnings of the large brown water bug, I think.

Sadie likes this page.

The other day I went outside the studio to look for something inspiring to catch my eye and noticed that this is coming up the second year of the fish outside the studio. Just a bit more rust on the wires, the rocks holding them from swimming too far are all in place and I still like them. Hard to believe that I drank the dreadful wine that was in them.

I really need to find something else to do in the studio. Sometimes I wish I could be like so many others and just crank out the same thing over and over for forty years. Settle on one thing like baskets, pretty watercolors of flowers, blank journals, even Nature contact prints….and then do it over and over and teach everyone else to do it over and over. But I can’t do it. I make no new discoveries about myself and what I am and am not capable of if I go down that road.  I am bored by it, that constant repeating.

I think that after last week with the completion of the Australian piece, I need to go back to the press. There are more images in my head that might just work out as etchings.

And there is writing to do. On rainy days like today it is hard to not just pick up a very wet ball point pen and a pad of yellow dog paper. They feel so much more natural than a keyboard.

Anyway, enough. I am headed upstairs to fix lunch and think about meals made in crock pots like we did almost fifty years ago. I am seeing more and more recipes for crock pot cooking lately. And it is getting to be soup weather.

Tomorrow it is off to Asheville for an overnight. When home I will unwrap the scarves and show you how they came out.

Til then.

This Might be Finished


I started adding tiny dots and tracking marks using just the watercolors made from the soils of Australia to the background.

Then I stained the entire thing with diluted walnut ink to bring the background into the warmth of the tracking paths of my own travels there.

It took a couple of days to make all the marks but no time at all to stain the surface with the ink. Then I wanted it to feel right, sound right. So I waxed it heavily with a paste wax and used heat to get it deep into the surface. I avoided waxing the cloth shadow etchings.

I used my colored shifu threads to stitch time marking marks onto the lower darker third.

And finally I added a backing of cotton that had been chemically rusted via Adele’s instructions. There was lots of ironing and waxing over every new addition to embed the marks even further into the paper “cloth”. The paper has a Drys A Bone feel to it…that clothing line of the Australian Outback with oiled surfaces.


I covered small stones with kozo paper that had been colored with Australian stones in case the piece needed weighting at the bottom to help it hang flat.

I did not like them that much. They distracted from the time marks.

When sewing the backing into place I added two small loops in each upper corner for hanging. I like how it looks, feels and sounds. It is very much about my experiences there and am thinking of a new title for it. The word, “Walkabout” is too spiritual and/or mired in Aboriginal history for me to be comfortable with. Anyway I think it might just be finished.

Lesson learned….just do it….don’t think too much…..just do it.

Til next week and whatever else I have moved on to.